My pile of grading is growing, and growing and growing. But I decided that I needed a break. I needed to remind myself why I love English. Why I love to look at what an author writes. And every year, I try to show my students that yes, you can break-down and analyze just about anything. Anything. Just listen to adolescent boys play Monday morning quarterback. Afterwards there is no doubt they know how to analyze. Ask them to explain which commercials from the superbowl are the most effective and you've got some great , well argued essays. My new favorite---pop culture. First we had Snooki. Then along came Charlie Sheen. Now we have Ms. Black. We were working on "lists". David Letterman made these famous. I love that guy who did the 25 Things He hates about Facebook. We started there. Then we decided to avoid things we hate---that's just too negative. I needed an example for my students. So rather than scour the internet, I wrote my own. Woo hoo. Here it is in all it's glory. Some might argue that mine veers real close to a "hate" list, but I think I show her enough love, and it's more about the confusion that results. Let me know what you think.
25 Things things that come to mind after watching Rebecca Black's "Friday"
What do I choose to “experience” or “enjoy” from the world of pop culture? It takes a lot to frighten and offend me. I’m not sure if it’s part of my constitution (or maybe, god help, I can’t quit you Charlie Sheen), or tiger blood. But I’m pretty casual. There was that one crazy song “Telephone” by Lady Gaga and Beyonce that I actually have never gotten through---I tried, believe me, but that video was so crazy and so wrong that I actually felt dirty and had to stop. Again, that is saying a lot. A lot. So when Jonathan Martin tipped me off to this Rebecca Black video (I did see it on a few facebook profiles but was confused that some thirty year old pals would be “sharing” a teeny bopper song---now I know why, now I get it), I made a mental note and headed straight to my IPhone (that’s right people, I’m using my new phone) 7th period. So, here’s my list of 25 things that popped into my head when I watched and researched “Friday” by the now legendary, Rebecca Black . . .
For those uninitiated souls out there---here's the link. The following post will be no fun if you haven't seen the song:
1. As one might imagine I was in shock for about three seconds. In those early confusing seconds only two words popped into my head---and as I’m an English teacher it was so fittingly an oxymoron (if you don’t’ know this term, you need to watch the video and I think you’ll understand how two seemingly opposite words come together---now you’ll never forget this literary term so that’s a good thing, and maybe the only good thing that will happen to your life as a result of watching this video): AMAZINGLY AWFUL.
2. HOLY COW. Within 2 days this video, or what I like to refer to as “3 ½ minutes of torturous hell” it had 2 million views. It really begs the question of what is happening to our world that we are all so masochistic that we choose to indulge, expose, harm, or dare I say entertain ourselves with this kind of “music”.
3. This girl and her work are “trending” on twitter!!!! What do we have to do as a people to “trend” on important issues? Seriously. Shouldn’t the Red cross text number for relief money for Japan trend (FYI—text to REDCROSS 90999)? Shouldn’t we be sending hate twitters to our congress-people so that they’ll stop bickering with one another and do some work for god’s sake? Honestly, even the rants of my boy Sheen that trended at least put a spotlight on and got us thinking about the real problems of substance abuse and mental illness.
And now for a more detailed examination of the song and video itself (NOTE: I’m proud to say I’ve watched this video just two times---once for about 1 minute (the first day on my IPHONE) and then this morning one time in its entirety. But even with just one full watch I have plenty to discuss.
4. So the lyrics start off on real informational note. In case you were confused about the days of the week, this song could function as a primer of sorts: “Yesterday was Thursday (Thursday)/today is Friday (Friday).” This sort of lyric reminds me of some of the elementary songs my kiddos learned at pre-school as teaching tool. But I guess to jazz it up the producers, singer, lyricist, whoever, added the “Echo” part. Probably because the line “Yesterday was Thursday/Today is Friday” really might not have gotten the information across---but dang the club-style repeat of Thursday and Friday is great.
5. But just when I think that this could be a song to share with my kiddos as a review of the days of the week I’m immediately freaked out by this young girl’s inability to use elementary subject + verb construction. Even nursery rhymes, both rhyme and use proper grammar for gods sakes: “We, we, we so excited.” At first I thought it might just be an aberration, but no, she sings in the next line: “We, we, we gonna.” Argghhh learn the verb “to be” Ms. Black. Learn it, live it, know it.
6. The beginning of the music video employs some weird, possibly creative, visual speed-up business. She is standing in her foyer “singing” to us about the days of the week while all the action behind her appears to be speeded up. I’m not sure if those people and their action behind are actually people trying to escape from being in the video with her, but I actually kind of like that part, I must admit.
7. As with any story and most songs are somewhat like stories, there has to be some conflict---and god help her she has a real quandary at about the 50 second mark---Her pals roll up in their ride---which I believe could be, but as I’m proud to say I only saw it for a fleeting moment as I’ve only watched the video once, a convertible Mercedes. That’s not something I’d ever buy my 16 year old kiddo---or even loan my 16 year old on a Friday night. But I guess I’m just a mean, mean Mom. Her problem---where in the world should she sit? Such drama. How will she make her choice? Is this going to ruin her Friday? Will it cause the song to end? Oh no, it’ll just morph into a “lovely” refrain. Phew.
8. Of course she takes the stinking backseat. What message are we sending our young women, Ms. Black (besides that fact that you can be a part of a terribly awful video and gain notoriety, that is)? Why don’t your boy toys let you ride shotgun? Aren’t you the star? Aren’t you the reason for the party? The fact that you settle for the back seat, isn’t too surprising but is rather cliché and I suppose is the least of your flaws.
9. Uhhhhmmm, I’m not sure where in state this Friday is supposed to be---but in the good Old Commomwealth (aka Virginia) we’ve got some serious rules for drivers under 18. 1. You can’t drive around with lots of young people. I was under the impression that you could only carry one other person under 18 (unless you are related to them). And you can only drive during a particular time of the day unless it’s for work or school. And hello, seatbelts people. SEATBELTS. They save lives---there was a small part, OK a big part that imagined them getting into a wreck and being ejected. Oh my---did I say that out-loud. My bad.
10. I’m still not sure which is scarier the fact that these teens don’t appear to be wearing seat belts or the fact that her “friends” appear to be genuinely rocking out to the song she is singing for them. Is this scary? Or is it just an example of really good acting?
11. As if the lack of seatbelts weren’t enough, then you pile on the idea that there is no radio playing but rather this girl providing the “music” for the trip, then it suddenly goes from 3 pm in the afternoon to 930 at night. And now the ladies are riding on the back of the convertible as though they were traveling at 5mph and in the homecoming parade. To add to this frightening madness one girl is donning a dress with a zipper front top. Really? I don’t think I need to explain why an adolescent girl getting ready to go out to a party with an-easy-access dress on is wrong on so many levels. So many. Oh by the way, it’s hot pink too.
12.While I was temporarily distracted by the hot-pink-zipper-front dress I came out of the fog to hear the line: “You got this? Only to be reassured by the following: “I got this.” What does she [have] exactly? Whatever it is, I don’t want any of it.
13. The next line I altered after she sang it for the 2nd or 3rd or 4th time, I forget---because as with any crappy pop, the formula involves a few lyrics just sung over and over and over again. She sings” Everybody’s looking forward to Friday, Friday, Friday.” But I was thinking: “[I’m] looking forward to this madness ending, ending, ending.”
14. At this point we are about 2 minutes into a 3 ½ minute song. She’s used all her lyrics and things begin to repeat---but this time around they put things into a psychedelic cartoon format. It was confusing and odd. But then again, the fact that I was still watching the video in the first place was confusing and rather shameful and unfortunate.
15.WOAH, wait a hot minute. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any weirder, thank god it does. Who in the world is the Original Gangster who suddenly rolls into the traffic pattern sporting the biggest watch on the planet and wearing the largest fake diamonds imaginable? Clearly this poor, aspiring rapper has sold his soul to the music gods in an attempt to make it by participating in this video. Alert to you Mr. Rapper man: Your street cred is done, son!
16.So, she finally gets to the party. Phew. What community does she live in? The party to which she has arrived turns out to be a concert where she is performing---this song---and all the folks in the audience are raising their hands in the air. Is this because they are enjoying themselves or are their rescue personal behind the “stage” getting ready to evacuate people screaming for help?
17.I actually do think though that she is a cute girl.
18. I also think she has nice hair.
19. Another positive---this note as with the two previous entries come to me as I’m watching her “concert” performance during the party scene: She is not dressed like a complete slut-tress, if you will. But as with any other pop princess of the modern age, once she gets an album that sells well, she’ll undoubtedly show some more cleave, raise her skirt and begin wearing clothes 2 sizes too small.
20.Oh my Rapper man returns and this time he’s not rapping but rather he appears to be driving---probably on the same stretch of road---perhaps he’s lost. But now, god help me, he appears to be rocking out to and enjoying her song. How did this man film such a scene with a straight face? Was he looking at a large pile of cash that was to become his once the director yelled “CUT”? He may just be a serious, serous actor.
21. The song, in my humble opinion, ends on a real lame note. It’s as though at the stroke of midnight---curfew perhaps---the song just ends. There’s no talk about the rest of the weekend, or the impending doom of Monday.
22. But wait, maybe that’s the genius of the song. Perhaps she’s planning on an album predicated on her exploration of all 7 days of the week.
23.Followed up by an album on the 12 months of the year, or the seasons, or perhaps the continents or god help us the 50 states!
24. Thank you America. Thank you for doing what you do best---exalting the worst representatives of our land to the highest heights of celebrity.
25. For those willing and ready to handle the madness in person it turns out she’s performing at Fair Oaks Mall on May 3, 2011. Bum-rush baby. Bring back pictures or cell phone video for me. Please.